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Did you know that the way we cook our food has a huge bearing on our health? If you go by the principles outlined in Ayurveda, the process of cooking is as critical to digestion as the nutritive value of the food being cooked. Any food can be considered balanced and healthy if it contains a good combination of the six Ayurvedic tastes, is tailored to the consumer's body constitution, and is easily digestible across all age groups. In this article, we will discuss Rasa – one of the most critical factors in Ayurvedic cooking.
The Six Rasas
Just as an understanding of the doshas is necessary for diagnosis of disease, an understanding of the rasa (taste) is necessary for treatment of disease. Every substance is made up of some combination of the five elements – Air, Fire, Water, Earth, and Space. Different permutations of these elements lead to the formation of the six tastes mentioned in Ayurveda – madhura (sweet), amla (sour), lavana (salty), katu (pungent), tikta (bitter), and kashaya (astringent).
The six tastes have certain qualities that can be attributed to their two primary elements. For example, the sweet taste is made up of earth and water, which makes it heavy, dense and moist. Because ‘like increases like’, eating sweet tasting foods excessively will lead to an increase in Kapha Dosha, as it comprises the same elemental qualities of Earth and Water.
Therefore, a balanced diet is one that has a healthy combination of all of the tastes, used in accordance with the dosha of the consumer. To be able to cook a balanced diet, it is imperative that one first understands all the tastes properly:
This taste is heavy, oily and cooling in nature. When used in moderation, it brings energy and vitality in the body, soothes burning sensation and has positive effects on the skin and hair. Overindulgence in sweet foods can aggravate Kapha Dosha and cause congestion, cough and heaviness. It balances Vata and is soothing for Pitta.
Found In: Milk and milk products (butter, ghee and cream), grains (wheat, rice and barley), legumes (beans and lentils), sweet fruits (bananas and mangoes), and vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes and beets), etc.
This taste enhances appetite, promotes digestion and has a warming effect on the body. In excess, it can create indigestion, hyperacidity and ulcers. This taste decreases Vata and increases Pitta and Kapha.
Found In: Citrus fruits (such as lemon and limes), sour milk products (like yogurt, cheese and sour cream), and fermented substances (including vinegar, pickles and soy sauce).
The Salty Taste is heating and heavy in nature. When taken in moderation, it gives energy, promotes growth and stimulates water retention. However, too much salt in the diet can lead to hypertension, edema, ulcers, and hyperacidity. Salty Taste increases Pitta and Kapha and decreases Vata. Due to its ability to stimulate digestion, it is highly recommended for Vata people.
Found In: Any salt (sea salt and rock salt), sea vegetables (like seaweed and kelp), and foods to which large amounts of salt are added (like nuts, chips and pickles).
It is heating, light and drying in nature, helps digestion and circulation and cleanses excess fat from the body. When used excessively, it can cause inflammation, irritation, diarrhoea, heartburn, and nausea. Pungent Taste increases Vata and Pitta. Due to its ability to dissolve fat, it is recommended for people with an aggravated Kapha Dosha.
Found In: Certain vegetables (such as chili peppers, garlic, and onions), and in spices (like black pepper, asafoetida, ginger, and cayenne).
This taste is cool, light and dry in nature. In excess, it can cause emaciation, fatigue and dizziness. Bitter Taste increases Vata and decreases Pitta and Kapha. It is especially balancing for Pitta as it helps to cool excess heat, enhance digestion, and improve liver function.
Found In: Green leafy vegetables (such as spinach and green cabbage), other vegetables (including zucchini and eggplant), coffee, tea, and fruits (such as grapefruits, olives and bitter melon).
The cooling, drying and heavy nature of Astringent helps improve absorption and has anti-inflammatory properties. In excess, it can create constipation and stagnation of circulation. The astringent taste increases Vata and decreases Pitta and Kapha.
Found In: Legumes (such as beans and lentils), fruits (including pomegranates, pears, and dried fruit), vegetables (such as, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus and turnip), grains (such as rye, buckwheat, and quinoa), coffee, and tea.
Incorporating the Six Tastes in your Meal
Your doshas can get imbalanced if you allow one rasa to dominate your meal, exclude one totally, or consume them in the wrong combination. The traditional Indian Thali is regarded as one of the finest examples of a meal balanced in all tastes. Made up of rice, dal, vegetables, roti, salad, curd, small amounts of chutney or pickle, and a sweet dish to top it off, the Thali is a good choice for people of all doshas as it contains all the six tastes in the right combination. When you take your meal, try and follow the right order of eating to make the most of the benefits offered by each rasa. However, please make sure that the foods you eat are not incompatible in nature (such as madhura milk and Katupickle).
According to Ayurveda, it is advisable to should eat foods with madhura rasa in the beginning of the meal, as these foods are heavy and dense in nature and take more time to get digested. When we start eating, our digestive fire is powerful and the body will be able to digest these foods more easily. So, start off with grains (rice/chapati), legumes (dal) and breads. You can also have kheer, halwa or mithai in the beginning of your meal.
Then, move on to the foods that have the sour and salty tastes. You can have curd or vegetable in the middle of your meal. The pungent, bitter and astringent foods such as salad, pickle or chutney can be consumed next. At the end of your meal, it is advisable to take a very small piece of sweet (preferably jaggery) in order to satiate your senses.
If you remember to include the above-mentioned tastes in your regular meals, you will find it easier to keep your doshas in balance and diseases at bay.
Helo Dr. my penis size small and my sexual stamina is less .i have some problem of night fall .so wt can I do for my healthy sexual life.
Hi Sir, I feel my windpipe could be inflamed. Yellow thick gel-like mucus with a little blackish/reddish blood continuously comes out from the centre of my lungs which I believe is from my windpipe. I have been coughing and sneezing non-stop for 10 years due to extremely hazardous air pollution. I am also suffering from cataracts and pharyngitis due to air pollution. Since childhood, I have had perennial allergic rhinitis. I had a nasal operation about 20 years ago where extra tissue and bone growth were removed from my nose to treat my allergic rhinitis. Current doctors tell me that I should not have undergone this nasal operation since technology was very backward then. I'm now 47 and also have other conditions like spinal and cervical spondylosis, spinal and cervical disk bulges as well as knee pain in both legs and tendonitis in my elbows. What should I do now? Thanks.
Tragedies are a part of life and at some point of life, every person undergoes some large-scale tragedy. It may be in different forms like separation, crisis in relationships, financial stress, death of a loved one, some severe disease and many others.
A large scale tragedy can cripple a person and devastate him. However, instead of breaking down, one should stand strong and face the situation. Here are 5 ways to cope with a large-scale tragedy:
- Talking to someone, honestly: You are not alone is this world and should not forget that there are many other people all around you. In case of a tragedy, you usually have a lot of pent-up feelings inside you. Instead of keeping them to yourself, you must share these feelings with your friends or any person whom you trust. Venting out will enable you to relax.
- Act on truth: Always keep in mind that whatever happens in life, there is a chance to start afresh. Always remember that you are not alone and there are people to help you out, no matter what kind of tragedy you have undergone. There is always some hope left.
- Be realistic: You have to differentiate between wishful thinking and hope and get it clear in your head. Wishful thinking might not get you anywhere and eventually you will be more disappointed. However, if you stick to reality and hope realistically, slowly you will be able to come out of your shell and face the world again. Face the reality that you have to struggle a lot for quite a long time and do not think about miracles.
- Second chances: In many situations, a tragedy comes with a blame. However, you should not confuse between condemnation and responsibility. Taking responsibility is wise, but self-condemnation takes you along the wrong track. You should give yourself another chance. You must let go of guilt and learn how to forgive and forget. By giving a new start, things will get back to normal. This is applicable in case of relationship-related tragedies.
- Have faith in God: When you are in a situation which is too tough to cope with, and you cannot foresee any hope, you have to believe in God. Keeping the faith is the best thing to do, and you should believe that hope is possible. If you have faith in a greater power, you will get through.
Large scale tragedies are difficult to cope with and can make you feel that your life is over. However, instead of isolating oneself and burying the grief, proper measures should be taken to cope with the tragedy for better and peaceful living.
In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!